48 Hours in Portland, OR
Stay /Eat /Shop /DO
Last weekend my boyfriend Jacob and I drove down to Portland, Oregon for a quick getaway. Portland is one of my favourite cities with it's lush green streets, countless swanky bars and vintage stores. Here's a little peak at (almost) everything we did that weekend.
Where to Stay
McMenamins Crystal Hotel
The hotel is located in Portland's West End on the edge of the vibrant Pearl District. I'll take a small hotel with interesting history (and no separate bathroom) over a Holiday Inn any day. Each room's name and decor is inspired by performances that took place in the neighbouring Crystal Ballroom. We got to stay in one with a saucy name - "Need Your Love So Bad".
Underneath the hotel is a salt water soaking pool, which was super nice to relax in before turning in for the evening. As I mentioned, the room we stayed in had no bathroom, however, there are a few full separate bathrooms on every floor and you get bathrobes in the room so it was pretty convenient. We always travel on a budget and 1 extra minute of effort that it takes to throw on a robe is well worth the $50 - $100 bucks we save at the end of the trip.
Where to EAT/DRINK
Ace Hotel & Clyde Common
By the time we made the eight hour drive and settled in the hotel it was happy hour time and *naturally* we took advantage if it. We went to the Ace Hotel bar -Clyde Common- which was about a five minute walk from the hotel, and had some delicious $5 gin- pineapple punch and a tiny but delicious plate of spare ribs and biscuits.
To get to the bar we walked through the lobby where we got a little souvenir - a picture strip from a photo booth. I love getting "non-obvious" souvenirs...The ones that at first look might appear mundane but have a story behind them that only you know; like a picture strip, or a coaster that I took from under my drink at the bar.
Alder Street Food Cart Pod
For dinner we decided to keep it cheap and grab some food from the food carts on our way back to the hotel. There were so many choices but I finally settled on Pad Thai with shrimps and Jacob got a Bahn Mi and some steamed buns (before steaming our buns in the aforementioned soaking pool).
*Disclaimer: We did have some stomach issues the next day, but it's hard to tell if it was just a mild hangover or a faulty shrimp.
*Verdict: 10/10 would eat there again - it was delicious!
For breakfast we decided to explore a new neighbourhood and went to Sweedeedee in North Portland. The whole area has a very "Mt. Pleasant" (if you know, you know) feel to it- very cozy! By the time we got there it was somehow already 11, and the line-up was out the door. The weather was crazy all weekend and it was intermittent sun/ torrential downpour. We snatched the one available table outside that people were too afraid to sit at because it could rain any minute, but we are daredevils like that. While I was guarding our soaking wet table, Jacob went to grab us some healthy breakfast. He came back with a slice of Salted Honey Pie (good start). Very delicious, definitely worth the wait. The healthy-looking porridge on the other hand was pretty underwhelming. Seriously, get the pie.
We stumbled upon Boxer Ramen in the trendy Union Way alley lined with shops and cafes. I think we are spoiled in Vancouver with authentic Asian food so I can't say it's the best I've ever had, but it hit the spot nonetheless!
Where to SHOP
Ahh my favourite part!! Portland is paradice for a vintage lover. Buffalo Exchange is a chain of second-hand stores across the US and while I enjoy sifting through things at hole-in-the-wall small vintage stores, it's kind of nice to have things a little more curated.
I ended up leaving with a sweet, perfectly worn and soft Trunk LTD Kiss long-sleeve baseball tee, a 70's inspired striped dress, and a polkadot crop top. Jacob got a Champion dad-hat.
I love a big book store and often find myself spending hours at Chapters in Vancouver, so Powell's Books was definitely on my list of places to visit in Portland. Being the largest independent new and used book store in the world, it had no shortage of amazing books to choose from. There is also a huge selection of touristy knickknacks and souvenirs so if you have to have your Portland magnet, you'll find it here no problem.
I know we have Whole Foods in Vancouver. Do we have wine in our Whole Foods? No we do not. I love me a good cheap wine, preferably sparkling. To my great excitement there was a huge selection of canned bubbly in 4 and 6-packs as well as individual cans. We bought a 4-pack to take to the hotel soaking pool in an ice bucket and before we left I begged Jacob to grab some more. I did that thing where I started out with a selection of 10 different cans, then gradually put one at a time back until I had only 3 left that looked the best to me. I'm no sommelier, but I thought they were all pretty good. By the way, if you like cheap rose here's a little tip on how to choose a good one.
What to DO
With two bars and a café attached to our hotel we had our entertainment sorted for the first evening with minimal planning effort. There was a stand up comedy show at Al’s Den so we decided to check it out. By the time we got there though, it was packed and the only table left was the one with a note “leaky ceiling above” taped to it (again with the wet tables!). We decided that a bit of a leak won’t scare us away and ended up having the best night! The comedy show was really fun (also free since we were staying at the hotel) and Al’s Den is connected to a dive-y Cellar Bar with cheap cocktails so it was a great night overall.
The Brody Theater
The next night we thought we wanted to see another comedy show so we went to the Brody Theater – a small cozy theater complete with a full bar. I loved the venue - with old movie posters all over and dim red lights it was kind of mysterious. Unfortunately the improv show we saw wasn’t our cup of tea so we left after the intermission.
We weren’t ready to head back to the hotel just yet so we stopped by Ground Kontrol. It’s a huge space full of classic arcade games and pinball machines, probably the highlight of our little trip for me! Our favourite was the alien game where we had to save the Earth. We somehow blew $40 on it since we (me) kept losing but with $3 PBRs and $4.50 ciders it still felt like a win.
After we saved the Earth we stopped by Voodoo Doughnut for a couple of nightcaps, which were more regrettable than the many drinks we’ve had that night. However, it’s such a landmark for Portland if you’re there for the first time you just have to go!
We had so much fun in Portland! It felt really nice to write this post - made me re-live the whole weekend. I wish we had another fun mini-vacay lined up right away... Good thing we stocked up on all the Trader Joe's snacks/wine on the drive home to make the first few days back to work a little more bearable.